Do’s and Dont’s of electrical enclosure installs
Why would I need an electrical enclosure?
Whether it is outside or within a building, electrical or electronic equipment needs to be safely housed. When installing electrical enclosures, you have to consider the safety and protection of the electrical equipment (this needs to be particularly focused on when installing external enclosures). Also, the safety of the people operating the equipment needs to be considered (ie to avert any chances of an electrical shock or the possibility of an electrical blast).
Protection against water ingress
We have all grown up knowing that electricity and water aren’t the best of friends. Water ingress is when water/moisture externally enters a building or other water-sealed spaces. When considering installing an electronic enclosure, especially in an outdoor environment, stopping water ingress is at the top of the list of priorities. The reason for this is, as well as the obvious issues of it being extremely dangerous, it also damages the electrical circuits, causes rust, damages expensive metals, and decays cladding materials. When installing the enclosure you need to consider protecting the unit from not only snow and rain but also the issue of condensation as over time this can raise the same issues.
To ensure that you have installed your enclosure to a good standard there are three core practices you can follow:
Check the IP Rating
Whether you are installing a small wall enclosure or a full-scale standing kiosk, an IP rating is used to identify the level of effectiveness of an enclosure against foreign bodies (moisture, dirt, etc.) that could affect its integrity and safety.
The rating starts from 0 (no protection) to 10 (optimum).
When considering intrusion resistance you want to be focusing on the second digit on the IP number. The second digit provides an insight into the resistance against moisture.
The IP rating should always be checked before installing to make sure it is suitable for the purpose of the enclosure.
Fully immerse the unit
By fully immersing your enclosure underwater you can sniff out all those exposed areas and seal them if necessary. This can be useful for finding any minor faults with the unit and giving you peace of mind.
Checking routinely and monitoring the performance
One of the best ways to indicate the performance of your enclosure is a practical approach, in which you schedule routine maintenance and keep a log to check for signs of deterioration and water ingress.
Here are some other Do’s and Dont’s on installing your enclosure safely and effectively.
When installing your enclosure you should;
- Install any wall-mounted units beyond the reach of children and pets.
- Confirm all-electric cabling and equipment are in good condition, as a damaged wire touching the body of a metal box would be the same as touching it directly.
- Look out for overhead power lines if working close to one (stay a minimum of 10 feet away from any electrical lines).
- Install GFCI outlets and waterproof covers on all external units.
- Ensure you are installing your enclosure with a solid foundation behind or underneath it to avoid it becoming loose and falling.
- Teach children to stay away from the unit and explain warning signs’ meanings.
When installing your enclosure you shouldn’t;
- Install an enclosure close to a body of water such as a pond, lake, river, etc.
- Overfill the box with too much electrical wiring where it would become difficult to progress with your work in the future.
- Allow anyone to have access to the box that isn’t trained within the electrical industry.
In short, electrical enclosures can be an effective way to protect your electrical kit in a safe way. For that to be executed correctly you need to be aware of the different contaminants and factors when considering protecting your equipment and others.